Category Archives: COVID-19

Work and School from Home: Walking Around Wallingford Part 1

Most work days I go for a half hour walk at lunch time. When working at the library, I had a great route that gave me hills and stairs. Our Wallingford house does not have such steep hills, which I prefer from a driving perspective, but I don’t get as much exercise this way. However, I love walking around the neighborhood and seeing all the beauty and quirk it possesses.

My Favorite House

There is one house in particularly that I love in this neighborhood. The house is light green with white trim and purple steps. The front door is glass with large whimsical flowers painted on it. I feel a little awkward taking pictures of people’s houses close up so you might just need to trust me that it’s a magical house.
House with purple stairs surrounded by trees.

The property also has multiple fairy doors next to the concrete steps and in the trees.
Yellow fairy door in utility pole.
Round fairy door, surrounded by cobble stone, in tree trunk.

Gothic-style fairy door in tree trunk.

Red round fairy door embedded in stones next to stairs.

Gothic-style red fairy door embedded in stone next to stairs.

Mosaics

I love all the mosaics I see in random spots around Wallingford. About a year ago I stumbled across Seattle Mosaic Arts and I meant to go back and take a class but never seemed to have a good time to do it.

Here’s their signs:

Mosaic on red wall. Blue background with a yellow crescent moon and multi-colored umbrellas. Says Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together.

Two mosaics on red wall. Top mosaic shows a crescent moon and says Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together. Bottom mosaic shows a sunset.

There are also many other mosaics around the neighborhood. One of my favorites is the stairs:

Steps with a mosaic picture of an orange poppy.

Twenty-two 12-inch mosaics with various pictures on them used to create a sidewalk path.

Colorful mosaic star with the word James on it.

Butterfly mosaic tile.

Flower mosaic tile.

Stair handrail covered in mosaic tile.

Mosaic mirror made with reflective mosaic tiles in the middle of purple flowers.

Signs

There are many, many, signs around the neighborhood but below are some of the more unique one.

One of the first COVID-19 related messages that popped up was a quarantine hopscotch on the sidewalk. The chalk writing says “Days in Quarantine Hop-Scotch”.
Sidewalk with chalk writing and numbered boxes.

Sign on fence says "Together We Will" with smaller, hard to read, writing around the bigger letters.

The fence below has multiple messages that says things like:

  • Take care of one another 🙂
  • One day at a time . . .
  • Love one another
  • You are loved
  • Not one Not two Together
  • It’s ok to cry
  • this too shall pass
  • We all have each other

Fence with encouragements written in chalk.

Another section of the sign:

  • Community is everything
  • Enjoy what you have!
  • Share a message [arrow pointing down to chalk]
  • Love = Soup [heart] XO
  • Spread community
  • Bears in windows

Fence with encouragements written in chalk.

One of my favorite signs is a “Beware of Dog” sign with dog crossed out and “frogs” inserted below.
Wooden fence gate with Beware of Dog sign. The word dog is crossed out and below it says "Frogs!".

Crossing sign with a picture of bigfoot and the text "Bigfoot Xing".

Wood in the shape of a T. Across the top it says "Be Happy".

Wooden sign with words in blue and green that says "Seattle You Are Cool".

On one of the “walks” Julian and I went on we went pass this sign. It says, “Our plants love receiving words of affirmation. Please share some freely with them as you pass by! TY!”.
Raised garden bed with sign in it.

There are several places where poems have popped up. Here’s one:
Poetry Proclamation
Clearly these are stressful times
So why not try and bust some rhymes?
As long as you are staying home
Why not give the world a poem?
This one’s here to get you started . . .
Don’t be shy or chickenhearted.
Imagine it’s a gift for others,
Children, grammas, daddys, mothers!
We’re all in need of fun distractions,
Kindly deeds and interactions.
So this is my shout out to you,
Friends and neighbors old and new!

Sign that says Poetry Proclamation.

This isn’t a sign as much as it is adding art to covered up windows/doors while the business is closed.
Picture of building with doors and windows covered by plywood and artistic orange cat heads drawn on the window coverings.

And in honor of when Calvin starts learning to drive . . .
Bumpersticker that says "Warning: Student Driver Be Afraid . . . Be Very Afraid".

Work and School from Home: Learning about Racism

I am bad at talking about racism. I never know the right thing to say so I tend to stay silent and watch and listen. I’m also too timid, which I understand is a privilege many people don’t have. However, I feel like my sporadic updates about COVID-19 would be incomplete without acknowledging our additional crisis caused by racism.

I’ve watched COVID-19 magnify existing problems. For example, organizations bad at communication become even worse at communicating. It’s also widening the differences between our socioeconomic classes1 as well as racial groups2, particularly for black people.

Then, police officers murdered George Floyd3. This is too common 4. Protests erupted, including in Seattle.

Calvin and I now share an office. A couple of days ago, while I was reading a Seattle Times article on the protests, I must have made a sound because Calvin asked me what I was doing. I told him I was reading about the protests and he asked me why there was a car on fire. For a moment, my mind went blank. How do I explain?

A while back Calvin and I watched a movie on Netflix called See You Yesterday. We had just recently watched Back to the Future and this movie seemed like a good continuation. The central plot of See You Yesterday is a teenage girl’s quest to change the past and save her brother from being shot by the police. Commonsense Media suggests it’s appropriate for ages 15+. Calvin was 10 at the time we watched it together. I wasn’t sure if Calvin was old enough to see a film with police violence. However, as I was looking for articles about the movie I ran across one, I can’t remember which one, which pointed out that black children don’t have the luxury to be ignorant. So, we watched the movie. It was really good.

So, when Calvin asked me what the protests were about, I asked him if he remembered watching See You Yesterday. He said he did. I then told him that while the movie was obviously fictional, police killing unarmed black people was not, it had happened many times before. The protests were because another murder had happened and people are justifiably enraged.

As I said, I don’t do a good job talking about racism and I’m also deeply ignorant about so much of its impact on people. However, I felt I needed to give Calvin some additional context. When in doubt, I turn to books. So, I started looking for audiobooks that could help explain it to Calvin. Eventually, I ran across a list from The Book Table, an independent book store, that had A Black Lives Matter Reading List. It included Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The reviews were good so I bought it5.

Calvin and I both listened to it. It’s for a juvenile/teen audience so is substantially shorter than the book it’s adapted from, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. As I listened, it reminded me of when I was an adult reference librarian and was asked for basic information about a specific topic. Sometimes the best way to learn something new is to find a book in the children’s area explaining the topic. Stamped is both engaging and informative. I think it gave Calvin and I a lot to think about.

  1. About Half Of Lower-income Americans Report Household Job or Wage Loss Due To Covid-19
    Kim Parker-Juliana Horowitz-Anna Brown – https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/04/21/about-half-of-lower-income-americans-report-household-job-or-wage-loss-due-to-covid-19/
  2. Race and Income Shape Covid-19 Risk: Sph: Boston University
    Samuel lhemdi – https://www.bu.edu/sph/2020/04/28/race-and-income-shape-covid-19-risk/
  3. Four Minneapolis Officers Are Fired After Video Shows One Kneeling on Neck Of Black Man Who Later Died
    Dalton Bennett-Brittany Shammas-Katie Mettler-Timothy Bella – https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/four-minneapolis-officers-are-fired-after-video-shows-one-kneeling-on-neck-of-black-man-who-later-died/
  4. A Decade Of Watching Black People Die
    https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865261916/a-decade-of-watching-black-people-die
  5. At the time, the library didn’t own the audiobook version. Less than 48 hours later, they currently own 10 copies but there are 47 holds

Work and School from Home: The Beginning

Wow. This month has been surreal.

On Monday, February 24 I woke up with a sore throat. By that evening, I had a feeling I was getting sick. I woke up in the night and took my temperature. It was 99 which is high for me1. I emailed my manager I was sick and went back to bed. Jaeger was gone to Mountain View. However, our au pair was already scheduled to start at 7:00, because that is usually when I leave for work, so I didn’t have to get up to get the kids ready for school. We knew there had been a case of COVID-19 in Washington but, at the time, they were saying only people who had contact with people from Wuhan were at risk. By the end of the day I was feeling better and didn’t have a fever anymore.

On Wednesday, February 25, my symptoms had morphed into coughing and a runny nose. However, I had no fever2 and believed my energy was back so I went to work. I also went to work on Thursday but at that point COVID-19 was starting to make a bigger splash and people were obviously nervous when I coughed. So, I requested working from home on Friday.

In general, my library is not supportive of working from home. However, the IT department is a little more flexible because it is very useful to do some things on off-hours and weekends and no one wants to spend time commuting on a weekend if they don’t have to. However, there are still rules. I can request to work from home for one day in the future. I cannot request to work from home for multiple days at a time. At the beginning of my day I have to send out what I’m planning to work on. At the end of the day, I have to send a detailed3 report of what I actually worked on. While the rules seem excessive and can sometimes be inconvenient, I’ve never had my work from home request declined. Though, I usually don’t request it more than one day a week.

Over the weekend, King County Health Department reported it’s first COVID-19 death. Library employees started expressing concerns about everyone getting together for staff day, which was planned for the following Tuesday.

On Monday, March 2, I was still coughing and people were getting even more worried about COVID-19. I once again requested to work from home and it was granted. The intranet thread about COVID-19 and staff day concerns had exploded. At the end of day, administration had posted that Staff Day was still on for Tuesday but anyone who felt sick should stay home. I was feeling fine but still coughing a lot which I did not think would go over well around large crowds of people. So, I requested to work from home and once again, it was granted.

My cough had become less noticeable, especially if I constantly sucked hard candy, so I went in to work on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the King County Healthy department said that anyone who could work from home should. However, my work didn’t support working from home during the Seattle Squeeze so I doubted they’d pay attention this time either. As a result, I went to work on Thursday. On Thursday, the city sent out a memo saying that employees were encouraged to work from home following the alternative work arrangement process that had been put in place during the Seattle Squeeze the previous year. Also on Thursday, our IT manager became increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 situation and said that anyone who could work from home should consider it. Except, this wasn’t supported library-wide yet so we still needed go through the normal process of requesting to work from home. Thus I requested, and was granted, permission to work from home on Friday.

Late evening Wednesday Jaeger’s work had sent out an email saying that Seattle employees should strongly consider working from home. Except Jaeger didn’t see it till he arrived at work on Thursday. Before he left, his employer had increased the strength of their work from home recommendation and said that anyone who wanted to take their equipment, such as monitors, home could do so. That decided Jaeger so he packed his desk into his car to take home.

Thursday is our normal date night. I get off work before Jaeger and usually walk to his work which is about a 1/2 hour walk. There were already signs that the big tech employers were strongly encouraging their employees to stay home. While people were still on the street, there was significantly less traffic than usual and the closer I got to South Lake Union, the sparser traffic became. On my walk, I passed a Girl Scout trying to sell cookies. Almost no one was going past her table, which was completely full looking. I stopped and bought some Thin Mints, even though I almost never buy Girl Scout cookies. I continued on my way and passed an salon that did eyebrow waxings. Two employees were sitting with nothing to do. I had been thinking of getting my eyebrows waxed for a while but I haven’t found a regular place in Seattle yet. So, I popped in and got my eyebrows waxed.

I met Jaeger and we went to eat at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. The fascinating thing about this restaurant is they didn’t appear SDA. However, they used Loma Linda and Worthington fake meats in their food. Nowadays there are so many fake meat options, including amazing choices from Taiwan4, that I don’t expect to see traditional SDA fake meat. While eating, we discussed the prospect of both of us working from home for an extended period of time. Jaeger almost always goes into work5 and I don’t normally telecommute more than once a week, if that. Fortunately, since Jaeger’s employer let him take his monitor home, we weren’t going to have a monitor crisis. However, we decided we did need some additional supplies and so headed to Fred Meyer.

The store was an interesting experience. They had most of what we were looking for but some weird gaps. I had groceries delivered the prior Monday and my shopper said he couldn’t find any frozen mangoes, so I decided to see if any were back in stock. The frozen vegetable/fruit aisle had been decimated. I knew people were hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and soap. I didn’t realize that frozen vegetables were also a thing. Interestingly, I did pass several bottles of soap6.

Once home, I started reconfiguring the office. Our office doubles as our guest bedroom, and up-till-now, may have gotten more use as a guest bedroom. I prefer working from our bedroom because there’s more natural light and the view is better. However, since Jaeger wakes up later than me, it made sense that he would work in the bedroom. The desk in the bedroom was too small for Jaeger’s two giant monitors so we swapped it with the larger desk that was in the kitchen. Both looked better in their new positions so we probably should have done that all along. I surveyed the downstairs office and decided additional lighting would improve it. However, we didn’t have any extra lighting. I tried stringing Christmas lights and it did improve the vibe, but didn’t offer much additional lighting. I tried to convince myself I didn’t need more light but that lasted only a day after which I ordered another light from Amazon7. We also only had one office chair, and I contemplated buying another, but eventually decided I didn’t want to spend even more money and settled on using a dining room chair.

I got permission to work from home Friday-Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 11, I went back into work because I had a couple of in-person meetings which hadn’t been cancelled yet. Plus, I had a couple of library holds to pick up which were going to expire soon. Truthfully, that may have been the main reason I went in. The IT office was empty. Eventually, some people drifted in. At around 10am, administration posted an announcement to our intranet saying that they realized people who could work from home should and so they were going to start determining who might be able to work from home.

Our IT manager sent out a link to the livestream of Governor Inslee’s press conference about COVID-19 so I listened to it with one ear while I continued to work. As expected, he announced that gatherings of more than 25 people were now prohibited in King County. However, he also said that schools should start making plans for what to do if they were shut down in the next couple of days. At that, I started paying more attention and messaged Jaeger that we should come up with a contingency plan for if schools were going to be closed. Jaeger was not listening to the press conference but forwarded me a tweet from the governor saying he was not currently calling for schools to close. However, listening to the actual speech, I was pretty convinced it was a matter of when, not if.

Two hours later, The Seattle Public Schools announced they were closing for at least two weeks. Right about the time Jaeger sent me the link to the announcement, I heard some loud exclamation from my supervisor’s office (my supervisor is parent to four school-aged kids). I went to my supervisor’s office, we exchanged stunned looks, and then I took my lunch break and went down to the children’s section of the library and checked out 25 books. I probably would have checked out more but that’s all I could fit in my backpack and spare grocery bag I had with me and I was taking the bus back home.

Our IT manager strongly recommended that anyone still in the office that could work from home go home. So, after checking out books, I headed back home and finished the day working from home. Though, I spent most of the rest of the afternoon in a daze.

  1. My normal temp is 97.9. The last time I had a fever was probably sometime before Julian was born.
  2. I’ve been trained to believe one should go to school/work unless one is vomiting or has a fever. Obviously, this is not the protocol I’m following now.
  3. As in, I can’t say I worked on tickets, I have to note the ticket numbers I worked on and say what I did.
  4. I know that Taiwan’s vegetarian history predates that of SDAs, but SDA is the one I grew up with.
  5. For being a tech employer with amazing conferencing tools, they’re weirdly antithetical to working from home.
  6. Which I did not get because I usually get the giant refill containers of soap which was still mostly full.
  7. A couple of months ago I bought a light for Julian’s room. He has an overhead light but it weirdly is in a corner of his room which makes for odd shadows. I like this light because it’s a warm LED and also has three brightness settings. Julian likes it on the lowest setting when he sleeps.